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Personalizing content is more than just “Dear {!Contact.FirstName}”

Deborah Holstein

May 16, 2017

While 73% of marketers place a high priority on creating content that will be “more engaging” for their target audience, only 29% are interested in personalizing content. This is a mistake because the most engaging content is that which is personalized to the reader.

Personalized online healthcare content has helped reduce smoking in young adults, while data from marketing service HubSpot shows that calls-to-action (CTAs) targeted to a specific user perform 42% better than generic CTAs. So why aren’t marketers giving more attention to the personal touch?

Identifying and delivering personalized content

Marketing emails that greet the user by their first name is most basic example of personalized content and its use is so prevalent (and therefore of diminished benefit) that even spammers are on first-name terms with their victims.

Instead of just plugging in your customer’s name, your content marketing program should be tailored for each potential customer at every opportunity on their journey from interest to purchase.

Analytics can help you understand user behaviors, while survey tools allow you to gather more detailed information on a target’s needs and challenges. The insights revealed by all this data, along with customer journey research, will help define your relevant targets, so that automation tools can deliver unique content to literally hundreds, even thousands of these unique segments.

The power of personalized content

This ability to identify the numerous target audiences for our products and to deliver compelling, unique content to each of those segments is powerful. Sometimes too powerful.

Retail giant Target once sent promotions for baby clothes to a teenage girl, causing her angry father to make a complaint. What the retailer knew based on the girl’s recent purchases (but her father had yet to discover) was that she was, in fact, pregnant.

In general, people respond positively to a more targeted approach. Research by Adlucent shows that 71% of consumers “prefer ads that are tailored to their personalized interests”, and they are twice as likely to click on ads from an unknown brand if it is personalized.

Get personalized content to market faster

Analytics and automation tools are so good that the problem with personalized campaigns is not in the targeting or delivering stages. It’s creating all the content that meets these unique needs. Without compelling creative content, personalization is useless.

Use these four techniques to create compelling personalized content and campaigns.

1. Use how they got there

If a person clicks a link on Twitter to one of your blog posts, displaying a prominent “Tweet this” link can drive more social shares. If you know how someone got to your content, use that information to show them a relevant next action.

2. Show new people around

A first-time visitor to your blog or website is probably new to your product or service so show them a call-to-action to watch a demo video or take a tour. It’s a chance to make a good first impression, so use it.

3. Reverse the personalization

When testing a generic marketing email against one signed off by a real person, HubSpot saw click-through rates jump from 0.73% to 0.96% for the more personalized approach. How can your potential customers get to know more about you?

4. Don’t overdo it

79% of US consumers expect brands to provide them with custom experiences. Just don’t get too personal, like with the above Target case. Being too pushy or acting like a stalker is a sure way to turn people off your brand.

By unplugging the bottleneck that affects your creative output and applying these four advanced techniques, you’ll stand to reap the rewards of personalized marketing. Provide customers with content relevant to their needs consistently and they won’t care what name you call them.

An amended version of this article originally appeared on MarTech Advisor.

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